The Sustainable City As Campus | evolveEA's work with Winchester Thurston School

Winchester Thurston School

Winchester Thurston School, a leading K-12 preparatory school located in Pittsburgh, has been on a deliberate and thoughtful path to relate sustainability to its mission, vision and operations. Its reputation for having an innovative educational model with a focus on issues important to the citizens of the future challenges the institution to assume leadership in sustainability both in its educational offerings and operational practices.

Sustainability at Winchester Thurston requires a holistic approach that integrates sustainability in the learning environment, curriculum, culture, and operations of the school, identifying sustainable principles as part of its institutional DNA. Guiding a diverse mix of stakeholders through the process, evolveEA has been integral to the school’s efforts in organizational strategy development and built environment operations for its urban campus. Our work with the Winchester Thurston community covers three critical areas of sustainability alignment: Culture of Sustainability, Operations and Facilities, and Educational Experience & Curriculum.

Culture of Sustainability

In service to Winchester Thurston’s goal of creating a Culture of Sustainability, evolveEA has engaged the school’s stakeholders through a series of parallel sessions, surveys, and special events to develop a complete understanding of motivations, barriers, and opportunities as seen through the eyes of its key constituents. Stakeholder groups include faculty, administration, parents, alumni, students, the Board of Trustees, and the school’s Advisory Board—each engaged with varying degrees of depth and in customized engagement formats.

Operations & Facilities

It is important for any school to “practice what it teaches.”  Teaching students about sustainability principles in a physical environment that does not operate with them in mind can be counter-productive, and potentially confusing to students.

Winchester Thurston has engaged a team to comprehensively investigate all of the facilities on its campus for opportunities to save energy and reduce operating costs. Simultaneously Winchester Thurston is in the process of improving access to natural outdoor learning environments on all campuses. The school also has a number of other on-campus operational sustainability efforts in place, including efforts to compost all food waste, recycle and minimize waste and reduce resource usage.

evolveEA is assisting Winchester Thurston in an effort to improve sustainability practices and school-wide systems in a comprehensive strategy that will result in more efficient operations that improve its environmental footprint and lower its operating costs. The continued development of dynamic learning environments for students that use architecture as pedagogy will play an important role over the next few years, and will help create an external value chain that will strengthen Winchester Thurston’s leadership role in sustainable operations.

Educational Experience & Curriculum

Concepts of sustainability are a natural fit relative to Winchester Thurston’s service-oriented educational mission and innovative  City as our Campus model, which provides students access to world-class institutions in the City of Pittsburgh. Our team has facilitated a strategic process to integrate concepts of sustainability into the curriculum that will ensure continued success, offering students important service learning and global perspectives to complex subject areas.

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